How to Become a Tile Dealer

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ceramic tile image by Karin Lau from Fotolia.com

If you have a knack for making a sale once you have a product catalog of which you're proud, starting a tile dealership could prove fruitful. For best results, a tile dealership will be located in an area that has a thriving economy so that business can be drawn in from new construction and renovations. Once you're confident that your town fits the bill, you'll need to set up a showroom and choose tile manufacturers with whom to partner. Finally, your success as a tile dealer hinges on your ability to know your customers and what they want.

Setting Up a Tile Showroom

Because we're all in the habit of turning to the internet to look for products and services, a website that showcases your tiles can help you bring in business. However, the tile industry is one that still requires a showroom, and that means you'll also need to budget for the rental space, utilities and sales staff.

Tile dealership showrooms are still popular because customers want to feel the tiles, see the glare or glow of the light bouncing off the surface, verify that the color looks as vibrant in person as it does in pictures and see what the tile looks like against different paint chips or baseboard styles and colors. They'll use your website as a starting point to browse your selection and determine if your showroom is worth a visit.

Pay attention to how your tile showroom is set up so that it remains user-friendly. Show variety without overwhelming your customer and decide how you want to organize the tiles (whether by material, price, brand, etc.) and make sure there's plenty of lighting on the displays. Have grout samples, paint chips and baseboard options available to place next to tiles to help customers see the full effect. Finally, consider offering educational displays that show different colors of grout, demonstrate the water-resistant properties of tile or explain how to install it.

Where to Buy Tiles

Next, you need to do some research to find high-quality tile brands that you can feel proud to offer in your showroom. Start with a basic Google search for "tile manufacturers" or "tile brands" and look for a section devoted to wholesalers, dealers, distributors or professionals on tile manufacturers' websites to learn how to purchase stock from them. If you feel stuck, reach out to industry peers via the Ceramic Tile Distributor Association to discover tile brands about which you may not have heard. Attending a trade conference is an excellent way to network and make new connections with brands.

You can set your tile dealership apart from the competition by really focusing on certain values or characteristics that matter to your customers. For example, you can choose to offer tiles made in America or made from recycled or reclaimed materials, or maybe you want to focus on importing the best luxury tiles from other countries to promote a unique style. Rather than trying to offer everything and anything, find tile brands that align with your company's vision and mission to help you effectively reach customers.

Diversifying Your Tile Dealership

Improve your tile business investment by finding creative ways to engage with your customers. If a lot of homeowners come into your showroom with the intention of installing the tiles themselves, hold a how-to session.

On the other hand, if you're constantly referring people to tile installers, consider hiring in-house certified tile installers so that you can offer this service. Finally, pay attention to trends in the home design sphere so you can quickly offer new styles or materials as the demand arises.